My motto for all travel is to do what you can comfortably afford to do. As I’ve written, if you want to fly business- or first-class, and you have the money to do it, don’t let anybody persuade you otherwise.
The difference between business and economy class on a plane — especially on long-haul flights — is painfully obvious. That is, the ever-more-cramped economy-class seats will induce pain; the lie-flat options up front will not.
But what about a cruise holiday? When it comes to sailing, the difference between class levels might not be so clearcut.
Although some ships do have small exclusive areas, everybody has pretty much the same access to the ship’s facilities: the spas, the bars, the activities, the shows and so on. If, for example, you want to upgrade to a better restaurant one night, you can do so for a small fee.
The real price difference — and it can be substantial — comes when you choose your cabin. Do you want the penthouse suite, a junior suite, a balcony (verandah) cabin, a room with a porthole or window, or an interior stateroom?
I’ve not had the pleasure of sailing in a suite, so maybe the extra facilities are worth the money. But, I always go for the cheaper options, on the grounds that the cabin is for sleeping in; the ship itself — ports of call notwithstanding — is the main attraction.
The baby grand piano in the owners’ suite may look great, but I can’t play it. The view may be nice, but it’s not really exclusive; I can see the same thing from the public decks. There may be butler service at the very high end, but I can get room service in my cabin, too.
So, contrary to my advice about flying, I’d say that unless you really are trying to impress someone else, or it’s a very special occasion, go for one of the less- expensive sleeping options and spend the money you save on the extras, such as fine dining, pampering and unique shore excursions, that will prove far more memorable.